Archive for January, 2007

Oh, Happy Discovery!  I love this!  Our Lady of the Book is a beautiful devotional meditation.  It is quoted here in part from The Mary Page in an article by Rev. Eamon R. Carroll, O.Carm. 

Symbolism of the Images:

"What is behind the representation of Our Lady of the Book? We find three lessons in the scene:

  • Mary herself reads;
  • the perfect correspondence between what was foretold in the Bible and its fulfilment in the birth and life of Jesus;
  • Mary is herself the ‘book’ in which the Church reads the ways of God.

The first meaning is Mary as reader; she reads in the fullest sense, that is, she searches, she understands, she prays, she opens her mind and heart to whatever message God will send her through his sacred word.

A second sense of Our Lady and the book is the correspondence in her life between God’s promises and their fulfilment in Jesus her Son. Gabriel is quoting the same prophecies Mary is reading, and as she consents to become Mother of the Savior, the forecasts become reality.

A third element in the tradition of Mary and the book is that the Blessed Virgin is herself a book in which the Church reads, a reading that began with the apostles. Early authors call Mary "the sacred book of the divine precepts, in which what pleases God is made known to us, as Jeremias saw long ago…" (St. Theodore of Studion, D. 826). One compiler tracked down ninety titles in which Mary is described as a book.

Our Lady of the book can teach us still how to pray better; we never grow too old to learn from the Mother of Jesus, the gospel woman of faith so well versed in God’s holy word."

Our Lady of the Book

Our Lady wears no dearer look

Than when she’s reading in a book.

For then the virgin named most Wise

Reveals her schoolgirl’s earnest eyes.

A furrow grace where eyebrows meet

I trace in her called Wisdom’s Seat

The hands that steady Jesus’ pace

Now cautiously each letter trace.

And Anna’s lessons learned so slow

Seem long ago, seem long ago.

Our Lady wears no dearer look

Than when she’s reading in a book.

For then the virgin named most Wise

Reveals her schoolgirl’s earnest eyes.

A furrow grace where eyebrows meet

I trace in her called Wisdom’s Seat

The hands that steady Jesus’ pace

Now cautiously each letter trace.

And Anna’s lessons learned so slow

Seem long ago, seem long ago."

~Father Joachim Smet November 27, 1943
Ateliers Brabancons (15th c)

next two images: Rogier Van der Weyden (1399-1464)

final image: Jan van Eyck
Ghent Altarpiece, excerpt, 1432

This explanation and the poem are being added to our Marian Notebooks.  The poem is today’s copywork on paper with the images pre-printed on it in a Word document. If I have time I will post the document later!  It dovetails nicely into tomorrow’s lesson…with another book image for Fine Art Friday’s  Fine Art-spirations!

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The Virgin Mary Crowned Van Eyck
As a very visual learner, I really do find inspiration in fine art.  As I am the one being homeschooled most days, I especially love it when there is hidden meaning in the art we study like in this Icon of The Virgin Mary.  The inscription reads:

"She is more beautiful than the sun + all the order of stars; 
being compared w/ the light she is found greater. She is in truth the reflection of everlasting light, + a spotless mirror of God"
(Wisdom 7: 29 + 26)

While I was researching some topics for our Fine Arts Friday, I found this Van Eyck painting and it spoke to me in some way.  In the Madonna’s crown are roses and lilies.  (symbolizing her love and purity).   (The funny thing is that she resembles me a bit….hmm a lesson for my heart to ponder….  I know I have much, much to learn from my most lovely patron saint.)  I wanted to know more about this painting  and came up with this from this site:

 "Perhaps the place is in front of Jan van Eyck’s crisply painted little panel that shows the Virgin Mary crowned and standing serenely inside the light-filled nave of a Gothic church.

Van Eyck casts her as a gentle giant who fills the soaring space — a remarkable invention that conflates Mary, Queen of Heaven, with the radiant interior of the church’s otherworldly architecture. The triumph of spirit over matter is paradoxically embodied.

350pxeyckhubertlamb750pix_2OK…I need to know more than that.

Then I went here and I realized this was part of something bigger….so many people may already know this, but fine arts was something passed quickly over in school.  Now I relish it for so many reasons.  It is exciting to find hidden meaning in paintings and the viewer is one like a detective looking for clues as to his own identity…as we are heirs to something much grander than ourselves.    I learned a bit more here

The thing that I argue with people about today is that we are becoming illiterite to symbol which even the illiterate to the printed word in the past knew.  I hate being "dumbed down", don’t you?  Life tastes so much sweeter with all of the seasoning added in proper proportion….we need a feast for all of the senses…a feast rich with symbolism and hints to the greater mysteries they represent…much like the parables were and are today.

I loved reading the explanation here.  I would love it if the kiddoes could create a simple penned drawing like this one, and I will invite them to do so, but I wonder if they would find it to be too complicated….and I know the pics of Adam and Eve may be a little much for a certain child I have…but I can concentrate on the more central images.  Any more ideas for a fun way to represent this information?  I am all ears!
This all came from this site and I will be perusing it in my "free time" for more ideas!  Why is it when I want to do something like this, I think of our dear Alice and I suddenly get more creative?!

About the Artist:

Jan Van Eyck

"A Flemish painter who perfected the newly developed technique of oil painting. His naturalistic panel paintings, mostly portraits and religious subjects, made extensive use of disguised religious symbols. His masterpiece is the altarpiece in the cathedral at Ghent, the Adoration of the Lamb (also called Ghent Altarpiece, 1432). Hubert van Eyck is thought by some to have been Jan’s brother." from the Encyclopedia Britanica

"The Ghent Altarpiece: The Adoration of the Lamb" (interior view) painted 1432 by Jan van Eyck.

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We are havin’ fun with Dawn’s Leter Meme!!….

Hmmm…the letter F?!  This is a tough one, Dawn!

The Things I Love …brought to you by the letter F!

  1. Food …I love to cook and bake and share it with Friends!!
  2. Filet mignon…dh does a mean BBQ not to be missed!!
  3. Fudge…I looooove chocolate.  I must have an over-active chocolate gene!
  4. Fall…Oh, how I love to walk in the cool crisp weather with the beautiful colors all around!
  5. Flowers …especially roses! I really love roses!!  They make my heart light!
  6. Fun  …especially messy fun with the children….I appreciate it even more when someone else does the cleaning though ;o)
  7. Friday  …creative arts day here…poetry, art appreciation, art expression, music….and tea!
  8. Foaccia and French bread hot from the oven!!
  9. historical Fiction….especially from Bethlehem Books and Hillside education.  We loooove historical fiction for read-alouds…we read till Mom’s voice works no more!!
  10. The Holy Father! …God bless the Pope!!

Thank you Dawn!  This was such fun!!

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You Tube for Montessori

I am a VERY visual learner.  My dh loves to peruse You Tube…mostly to reminisce about the past…like perusing everything from Wonderama and Captain Kangaroo to Music from the 80s

I came up with this:

Montessori Elementary
Montessori 3-6

Knobbed Cylinders

Maria Montessori

Montessori Birthday

Montessori Classroom

I am sure there are more…It is nice seeing some of this though!

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Aren’t these notebooking pages great?!
It will save me lots of time making my own!  You need to peruse the site to get a full look at what Debra has to offer…there are both freebee and affordable pages.  The nature pages sure are cute! And these Geography pages were created to go with Geography Songs! 

If you stop by, tell her I sent you ;o)

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I was Adopted by a Saint!


Thank you dear St. Elizabeth Ann Seton!  We love you our dear patron and friend!

St Elizabeth Ann Seton is my confirmation patron.  Without knowing the significance of that date, I had my twin dds Rebecca and Katherine on her feast day.  Years later when reading the story of her life to them, I read that out of her 5 dc she had two daughters named… Catherine and Rebecca.

About that same time I was starting to homeschool and a well-meaning but out of line family member kinda verbally attacked me for my choice of homeschooling.  We were at a family event and I went out to the car to nurse my almost 1yo son.  While I was in that car, I talked with God….alot.  I prayed for St. Elizabeth’s intercession and asked God if I was indeed doing His will because I loved the thought of this great undertaking.  I was so very attracted to it. …this homeschooling business… I started to pray the rosary and by the 2nd Joyful mystery, I was filled with a great calm.  This was my great ah-ha! moment.  I have never doubted homeschooling ever since.

Two years ago, I was eagerly awaiting the birth of our 7th child.  We knew she was to be a girl and we wanted to name her after the Christ-Child as she was due around Christmas.  Christmas came and went and when I was at my mothers home, I just happened to glance at her inspirational calendar.  It said…"If God seems to be delayed, it is because He has a good reason."  LOL..I thought…how appropriate!  I went to Sunday mass and the parish priest looked at me and said "St. Elizabeth Ann."  What?  I asked…  "St. Elizabeth Ann…THAT is when you are going to have that baby!"  Oh Father, if you only knew…that is my confirmation patron.  "See?  That is the day!"

There were many other co-incidences or should I say God-incidences that kept poping up…Elizabeth Ann was everywhere!


The ultrasound said this baby was about 12 lbs.  I knew it COULD be wrong.  I was holding too much fluid.  They called me into the midwifes office and I went after going into church begging God that a C Secton was not in the plans and that I do whatever He willed.  I didn’t know who to trust except Him.  At the midwife’s office they told me that they were fearful of how this was affecting the baby and wanted me to go to the hospital right away for a C Section schedualed for that evening.  I walked into the hospital and heard that player piano playing a song my mom often played and I relaxed.  I sat down in the chair to give them my info and it started to play the Ave Maria as soon as my rear end hit the seat…the day….St. Elizabeth Ann’s feast day.

I got up to the maternity ward and called my mother…"Mom?  it looks like I have to stay here…can you pick up a cake for the twins"?  The nurse said "…if she doesn’t cry…I will!"

My dd was born at a healthy 10lbs 8 oz.  Perfectly pink in every way.

Did you ever feel like you were adopted by a saint?  I do!

…and a very happy birthday to three beautiful daughters!
I do have another dd born in August…I know that isn’t a feast day of St Elizabeth Ann, but it IS the birthday of my dearly departed maternal grandmother.  My grandmother’s name is….

….Elizabeth….  co-incidence??  hmmm..who knows? ;o)

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There was a great discussion on the Mater Amabilis yahoo group and I thought I would share my ideas here.  There are many things regarding Montessori that have taken a metamorphosis of sorts in my life.  I was afraid of investing a lot of time and money making materials and finding in the end that they were not cared for or that it was not practical in some sense for my family.  Some one shared that they created a Montessori classroom in her basement finding that it was becoming a source of frustration and also finding that it was not where God was leading her.

I have found this in many ways too…but for me, I
learned that I can create as I talk or the others work
or, if it is worthwhile enough, an older child can
make it as a learning project.  umm…since that
statement is as clear as mud, let me be more specific

I was finding that the little ones were getting pieces
parts alll over.  Tackle boxes and zip loc bags(up
high and labeled) helped.  But I had no more $$.  I
had very little time to play nursemaid to my school
shelves.  I needed something concrete and a way to
lead towards abstraction that I could throw away if I
had to…

I wanted more unstructured time for myself.  I found that I could do this if I utilized my time in a different kind of light. 

My best friends became sharpie markers, index cards
and popsicle sticks.  If we were learning about the
teens and tens, I still did present things like I
would with the genuine article, but I would make it
out of index cards and sharpie as I was sitting in
front of them and asked them if they wanted to play
this game with me and a stack of cuisenaire rods
(which were plentiful and available and the only thing
I wanted to pick up…LOL). 

When they were learning to spell, we looked for pics
in magazines or I sent them on a scavenger hunt to
label things…no more thousand piece round up when
they were done and the toddler wasn’t.  I did a lot of
things with paper and index cards so it wasn’t so bad
if I was cleaning and it was on the floor one too many
times…I could just sweep it up in the regular paper

I was learning more through my reading (in various online groups and Montessori books) of how things
naturally progressed and how to meet their needs just
before or as the children needed them.  I didn’t have to spend
hours creating a beautiful apparatus only to have them
master it in 15 minutes and not want to pick it up to
work with again.  I learned to find the teachable
moment.  That reading of the method and making of
materials in the past fed my security of being a good teacher and anticipating their needs before I ever
encountered them.  Being a mom of 7dc…I now know
what happens next. 


I HAD to get creative, I like being creative, but I
had such limited time and funds.  I  didn’t want to
ditch the whole Montessori thing all together because
I saw it work wonders with my dc…one of which needed
very concrete touchable examples of EVERYTHING…so I
learned that using a Montessori catalog and what I
wanted to cover using some kind of reading or workbook
spine kinda fit the bill for us…

Was it Montessori like the schools…no way ;o)  Was
it what the child needed when he/she needed it…yes.

We just used whatever outline was needed and "made
games" to make things stick better.  I used glitter
glue on index cards for the sandpaper letters which
proved useful for learning cursive.  We did make
landforms in the sandbox and make a sandpaper and
continents globe with a papermache and balloon
base…Ok, so it wasn’t exactly a sphere…but the
kids Loooooved it. 

I learned to let my kids use many
senses to learn things..even letting them
touch…gently 😉  I got my point across ;o)

Some of the math games like the bank game, we did
through my 11yo ds.  I gave him the general
information and asked him how it worked and why.  I
used the printouts that were free on line and we made
the game together (gluing the papers to cereal box
cardboard…covering with contact paper and cutting).
He loves to teach the little ones, so this is a source
of amusement for him as well as a chance to make sure
he really knew all the ins and outs of the

We built binomial and trinomial cubes
out of 1cm blocks and he was able to demonstrate to me
how those algebraic formulas worked.  The kids just
thought they were great puzzles. 

The environment?  It is our home…the Montessorial
step-by-step way of caring for it came in very useful
for a certain 7yo ds who needed that info in just that
way.  I keep things accessible to them to do a good
job…they know what a broom is and how to use it and
they have safe cleaners like vinegar to use on the
windows and such.

I needed to go through my Montessori phase to have
that kind of beauty and order in MY heart…then I had
more insight as to how to present things to my dc as I
observed they needed them. 

I kinda thought it was like going to the Library for a
book and owning a book.  I want so many lovely books
available on our bookshelves for any time that a child
gets a whim to learn a new thing.  I hate going to the
library.  But, one day…I was standing in a new
library in the children’s section and I looked around.
I KNEW I could never house all the books I deemed
indispensable to our education.  I just have a few
books (comparatively speaking) here and we do our
further explorations at the library…even if it is
just me jetting in there for a large stack to throw on
a shelf for the kids to discover…

Currie_and_ives_1I had to find what
was necessary…I found  the spine of what we needed
and I was more able to supplement what else I wanted
from there…I was finally seeing the children’s
interests and feeding them as we went along.  I now
knew what I was looking at and where I wanted to go
from there.  It is so nice having a name for things. 

I hope this is clear…lol…It is kinda like when a child is a toddler using every available moment to gather information about his/her world. And using that world around them to make connections.  Here it is not only connections made with measured materials, it is a connection made amongst people in a family-centered environment.  Some of the most sucessful materials then become the box and the paper the present came in…the present is the present moment itself wraped around familal love and cooperation.  God knew that…he put the environment together for me giving my spouse and I these unique individuals and their unique talents..now as I learn, I use what He gave me for the best good that I can…I do believe they call that being a good steward.  I will take my portion well done, thank you!

Image: Little Precious One Danny Hahlbohm

"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."

– Matthew

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